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IMAGIKA - Steve Rice

Imagika was formed in late 1993 by guitarist Steven D. Rice and vocalist David Michael with the intention of playing music that was free of trends and would remain timeless. Taking their influences from the Bay Area Thrash scene and mixing it with their love for classic bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Mercyful Fate, they recruited Henry Moreno on drums and Mike Dargis on bass. Wasting no time, Imagika hit the studio and recorded a 3-song demo that showed the band in their infant stages but reflected the quality songwriting they would become known for.

By late 1994, the band had begun work on their infamous debut CD that was finally released in 1995 to the un-expecting metal underground. Taking a "Do-It-Yourself" attitude, the band pumped hundreds of the CD to the worldwide press and radio and became known as a modern resurrection of the classic Bay Area sound. The CD contained a wealth of material that ranged from all-out brutal to beautiful and exhibited a huge leap forward in songwriting from the early demo. The band was able to sell 2000 copies on their own Headless Corpse label by word of mouth alone.

By 1996, the band had attracted some interest in Europe and was able to secure licensing for the CD through ABS Records who re-released the CD in Europe with the original 3-song demo added as bonus tracks. By early 1997, the band had found management in Europe through Flying Dolphin Promotions, headed by Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger fame. The band had already finished their sophomore effort, "Worship", by this time and was prepared to unleash it on the masses. No label with balls in the U.S./Europe would touch the CD, so the band was once again forced to make it happen on their Headless Corpse label. This time, though, the band would have much better distribution through Radiation/Indigo and promotion with Flying Dolphin.

Released in late 1998, the CD garnered fantastic reviews, which the band followed up by touring Europe with Grave Digger and Iron Savior in January of 1999. The band was well received and proved to the fans that the Bay Area thrash scene was still relevant. Buzzing from the tour, the band set to work on new material to follow up the success of the album and tour. Putting together a 3-song demo, the band was able to attract some much-needed label interest with Massacre Records finally securing the band a deal in 2000.

"And So It Burns" was released in October 2000 and received much critical acclaim. Sadly, Mike Dargis had by this time decided to leave the band, which put to rest any touring the band was intending on doing to promote the release. The band had the unfortunate task of finding a suitable replacement. After six months, they found their new bassist, Elena Luciano( who happens to appear in the Metallica movie “Some Kind of Monster. Another story altogether.) It was worth the wait, as she was able to come in and give Imagika a much-needed boost with a fresh perspective and enthusiasm. Time was not wasted, as the band put together a slew of material that raised the bar once again.

After 8 years and 3 overseas releases, the band had a North American release on WWIII Records. The label agreed to license the "And So It Burns" CD and made it special for the North American fans. The band and label decided to "repackage the effort" with all new art and 3 previously-unreleased bonus tracks and released it in July of 2001. With the release the band was able to break new ground in North America and gain more fans that now had the chance to hear the band for the first time.

So after many delays both personal and professional the band finally starts the new CD with famed producer Neil Kernon. Everything was going great when co-founder and vocalist Dave Michaels decides after 10 years, countless shows and 3 CD’s that it’s time to call it a day. Not happy with the turn of events being that Dave laid down 8 vocals that were essentially useless the band begins the hunt for a new voice. As luck would have it the band came in contact with local vocalist Norman Skinner who is a vet of the local metal scene (Machine Called Man, Tramotane) that was up for the job. After one audition and show of dedication by writing all new lyrics and melodies to 4 songs in a matter of days Mr. Skinner showed us why he is now the new voice of Imagika! Also at this point the band decides it was high time to bring in that second guitarist that the new material called for and Pat Toms was laying in wait. Pat is another vet of the local scene with his past band Punisher and happened to be a friend of the band for many years.

Upon the completion of recording the new vocal tracks Imagika was again forced to play the waiting game to finally mix the CD. Neil Kernon’s schedule became quite impossible between the time we brought Norm on board hence the turn to Juan Urteaga for the mixing job. Juan was a logical choice since he was local and had a good reputation with doing Metal right and working in the past with respected bands like Skinlab,Vile etc.. Finally after starting the CD a year before the final mix, the CD was done! The CD was released on March 2005 in Europe with a Oct. North American release through Mausoleum Records/The End.

After the release of “Devils on Both Sides” the reviews in Europe and the US were fantastic with the band re-establishing itself in its new form. Imagika played shows with Testament, Therion, Hirax, Kreator, Vader, Metal Church, etc. before concentrating on new material. The band entered Trident Studios in Dec. ’05 to track the new material for the CD “My Bloodied Wings” Then it was off to Sweden to mix with legendary King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque at his Los Angered studio. The CD was completed by the end of Jan. and features 11 tracks of the bands most diverse and definitive recordings to date.
“My Bloodied Wings” continues the next chapter in Imagika’s history…..


IMAGIKA Internet presskit
Dedicated websites:,;jsessionid=EF95867EDBCD013F4263BC2155591E48Reviews:
Imagika - And So It Burns
October 2000
Released: 2000, Massacre Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

If you're wondering why my first two reviews this month are a 5/5, well it's because both CD's blew me away!!! And so I come to another IMAGIKA CD review. These guys are definitely my favorite "underground" band. And So It Burns is released by Massacre Records and it's about time someone picked this band up. The labels that have turned these guys down to date have to be DEAF! This music and this band's sound is not at all dated. Good metal is ageless and their talent is undeniable. If you do not yet know who Imagika are then I pity you. This is aggressive thrash metal, plain and simple. There are some traditional and power metal overtones but at heart this sounds like thrash to me. That means roaring guitars, ripping solos, amazing drums, and screaming vocals.

This band keeps getting better and better. The improvements on this CD as compared to their last CD, Worship include: the vocals - David Michael has outdone himself this time around. On songs like "Fallen One" he really lets loose and sounds quite pissed off while on "Darkness Has Come" a more melodic side is explored. Another area that has improved is the drumming. Henry Moreno is a drum beast! The double kicks are very tight sounding and played with precision - check out the double kicks in "Atrocity"!! Steve Rice's lead guitar work also keeps improving and his rhythm sound on this album is godly - thick and brutal. The thundering bottom end bass lines of Michael Dargis hold down a solid foundation. There are no filler songs on this CD. The CD begins with a short intro segment with introduces the first full song "Chaos To Murder" - one of the albums attention grabbers and up-tempo numbers. This is followed by my current favorite track on the CD - "The Fallen One." The intro riff on this with the triplets on the guitars followed by a very neat drum patterns bring a smile to my face. The next mind-blowing track is "Hell." Again - killer double kick drums, excellent intro, screaming vocals yet melodic on the verses. The title track "It Burns" begins with a clip from the greatest horror movie ever, The Exorcist. Timely, considering it has been theatrically re-released this month. "Darkness Has Come" is another of the stand out tracks. The vocals are really cool on this one somewhat similar to Chuck Billy's (Testament) melodic styled singing. The CD's closing track, "Fade Away" clocks in at 8:40, the longest song on the CD. This is the one where I can hear a Grave Digger's still Imagika, the chorus has that grandiose melodic style of chorus with backing vocals. Not only is this album Imagika's best to date, it is also the best sounding. That is thanks to the engineering and production assistance of Grave Digger's Uwe Lulis. Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger also makes an appearance on a couple of tracks on backing vocals.

I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it - Imagika RULE! I happen to miss the thrash metal scene from the mid to late 80's, so it's nice that a band from the bay area have picked up and are waving the flag of REAL trend-free metal from the USA.
Imagika - And So It Burns (Demo 1999)
August 1999
Released: 1999, Independent
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

How much more good stuff can I possibly say about this band? I loved their first self-titled CD, I loved their second CD "Worship" even more and now I've been given a taste of their new material with three new songs. These guys really have their shit together and just keep on getting better. The only mind-blowing thing is WHY IN THE HELL ARE THESE GUYS NOT SIGNED?? That's the biggest mystery with regards to Imagika for me. Yeah there are a lot of cool signed bands out there but there are also a lot of very shitty bands who are getting signed. Imagika have been working hard at this since 1994 and I think their time has come.

For those who missed the earlier reviews we've done of Imagika's material check it out and while you're at it check out our interview with their lead guitarist - Steven Rice. If reading that interview doesn't convince you of Imagika's sincerity and deservedness for metal glory then the proof will be in the listening. This new 3-song demo was recorded to primarily shop to labels to see if any of them have the balls to take on this pure thrash/power metal band. The demo begins with the violent "Hell" - a journey down into a pit of swirling double kick drums and brutal thrashing riffs who's hooks will tear you to pieces. On the second track - "Evil Spites Evil" things calm down but it's pure metal all the way. The riffs on the final track, "Purged" reminded me of a Painkiller era Priest song, only angrier. The best thing about this band for me is that it's an instant like. By that I mean when I turn on anything by this band I'm immediately saying "YES!!" Imagika successfully tie together the thrash metal sounds of the 80's (Testament, Forbidden, Death Angel, etc.) with a 90's power metal sound. A bonus track was also on the demo which will be on an upcoming Dio tribute - the song being "Evil Eyes." Anyone who contributes to a tribute for the metal god Dio is cool in my books. Imagika manage to make "Evil Eyes" sound like it's a song they wrote while still capturing the essence of the original song.

Imagika, although lesser known, stand along side other US bands like Iced Earth and Nevermore as examples of everything that is great about the American metal scene in 1999. Check this band out now, you owe it to yourself.
Imagika - Devils On Both Sides
May 2005
Released: 2005, Mausoleum Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

Another Imagika album, another 5/5! The band that I first got into with their self-titled album way back in 1997 continues to blaze a trial to thrash metal supremacy with DEVILS ON BOTH SIDES. The embodiment of all the true godliness of thrash/power metal is summed up in this band and this album stands proudly as an example to those who think that new thrash bands all have crappy hardcore singers.

On the singer font, admittedly, a bit of worry crept in when long-time Imagika vocalist, David Michael, decided to leave the band. In 2003 the album was stated with Neil Kernon at the helm and the vocals with David Michael were pretty much recorded. Then he left the band. Thoughts of how could he possibly be replaced left me with some doubt. Enter newcomer Norman Skinner from the band Tramontane. Not sure of what he could do in Imagika, I was willing to listen with open mind and ears. It may be tantamount to ImagikaMetal heresy to admit this, but Norman adds the one thing to the band that they at times lacked...vocals with melody! Now before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion that the band has went soft, forget it. The music burns with the same fire and intensity that was present since day one. Norman can belt it out sounding a bit like David on a track like “In Your Shadow” and then he can bring in the melody and atmosphere with a song like “Evil’s Rising”. This style of thrash vocals (melody + aggression) is exactly what most new thrash metal is lacking. For this reviewer, the good old days of thrash metal is represented by the Bay Area thrash bands. At the top of that list would be those with versatile vocalists (Forbidden, Death Angel, Testament, etc.). Imagika always brought to mind that sound and they have managed to improve on this and on the band’s overall impact with the new vocalist.

So besides the whole vocalist thing, there are some other fine musicians in this band as well! Steve Rice on guitar continues to write killer thrash riffs and ripping solos. He even throws in a bit of acoustic guitar on this album without overdoing it. Drummer Henry Moreno has outdone himself with his performance on this album - very tight playing with fills and speed that keeps me impressed even though I don’t usually listen closely to the drums. Bass goddess Elena Repetto Luciano keeps up a solid bottom end but she doesn’t get to stand out as much as the rest of the band. There is also a new guitarist in the line-up (Pat Toms), but he’s not playing on the album. The band has managed with one guitar for this long, so it’s unclear why a member was added at this point. What his impact will be on the band’s sound won’t be heard until the next album...surely having a second guitar for playing live will give the band the extra power required.

As for what are the stand-outs of the album, I have to pick the #1 song on here to be “Evil’s Rising” (or as some smart-ass suggested “EvilG’s Rising”...ha!). EvilG is indeed getting a rise out of the album and this song with it’s haunting vocal line, excellent chorus, diverse song...perfection. My current other 2 favorites would be the opening tracks “In Your Shadow” and “ Hexed”. Both sound a little more like typical Imagika than “Evil’s Rising”, but typical for Imagika is beyond godlike for most bands. There are no bad songs on here so there’s no point in trying to criticize anything about this album. The only way this could be better is if it was longer than 10 songs!

So far for 2005, DEVILS ON BOTH SIDES easily stands head and shoulders above every other album. If you loved past Imagika releases, then my praise is of course nothing more than preaching to the converted. If however you’ve yet to check out this band, this is the album on which to do just that. Head over to and discover for yourself what real thrash metal was meant to sound like...devoid of trends, timeless, ageless, relentless...IMAGIKA!!!!!
Imagika - My Bloodied Wings
September 2006
Released: 2006, Crash Music
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: EvilG
Legends of the underground, Imagika, have made their triumphant return with their 5th studio album, and second with vocalist Norman Skinner. With MY BLOODIED WINGS, fans get exactly what they’ve come to expect from this Bay Area power/thrash metal band - an ass kicking!

MY BLOODIED WINGS starts with the cool intro “Tongue of Nyx” featuring some clean guitars and layers of guitars that sound almost orchestrated. Don’t sweat it, it’s not fairies or elves dwell in this neck of the woods! After the intro, things slam right in with “Hunter’s Moon”. Great song to use as an opener as you’ll be shouting along the chorus after just a listen or two. The next really bright spot comes with the metal anthem “Throw the Horns”. The riffing in this one is intense and is quite thrashy even for Imagika standards. The lyrics are in the vein of a Priest metal anthem with lines like: “A metal scream ignites the masses. Heads banging as the guitars blaze.” If you find that corny, then to heaven with ya! Norman hits some retardedly high notes in this one. In a couple of places it’s uncomfortably high and I would rather if it didn’t strain into those registers... Just a minor complaint though as the vocals on here are very well executed and the clincher - they are varied. Norman is primarily a melodic singer, but he very often heavy’s it up, at times sounding not far removed from Chuck Billy’s deathly growl. Other highlights include the heavy “Forever Darkened” and watch out for the ballad “One More Day”. It might not be my favorite track musically, but it offers a different side of the band and of Norman’s vocals. One ballad is enough though, but it’s nice to have one on here that is of this caliber. The last track I’ll mention is the album closer / title track “My Bloodied Wings”. I love this song! It’s the best on the album and is one of my favorite Imagika tracks to date. It’s not typical Imagika sounding, but still sounds like the band. The thing that really makes this one is the riffing and melodies - I love the way it builds up and when the drums come in it’s just pure metal bliss.

The album’s sound and production must also be mentioned. This is perhaps the bands best sounding album to date. Andy La Rocque did a great job as did whoever else helped mix and master this bloodied beast. The drum sound is killer and highlights what I think is one of Henry’s best performances....just wow. The lead playing also shreds. There are two guitarists on the album, but since the recording one left, leaving Steve Rice (the original guitarist and primary songwriter) alone on guitar duties. Not that this will have any noticeable impact since Steve is main songwriter here.

I’ve been reviewing new Imagika releases since way back when they sent me their very first self titled. Since day one, the band blew me away and I’ve been waiting for them to become huge. However, in the past 10 or so years I’ve seen so many less worthy bands come and go yet Imagika still stick together, and to their guns, in a perseverance of wills against a seemingly uncaring metal world. This my friends is an example of a supreme quality metal band who are playing the music they love, to hell with ‘em or fuck off!!!
Imagika - s/t
April 1997
Released: 1997, Headless Corpse Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG
Remember the good old days when San Francisco Bay Area thrash was it? It was a time when bands like Exodus, Forbidden, Death Angel, and Testament were all big time. The legacy of the Bay Area sound helped spawn bands like Machine Head and Pantera who in their own right are great bands. However, these two bands don't sound like 80's thrash. Just because the music from that era is no longer the in thing does not mean that it's shit! Nor does it mean that it will never re-appear. I'm not saying that change isn't good, it's what keeps things from stagnating.

For everyone who likes things to stay the same or perhaps for anyone who just misses the old days, a band has emerged that will satisfy you. This band is IMAGIKA. Unfortunately, the majority of the originators of the scene have either broken up, given up, or have lost their way. San Francisco's Imagika recent self-titled release has seemingly been put in a time capsule for 10 years. It's so dated that it actually sounds fresh!! No trendy industrial or alternashit influences mar this recording. If you miss the good old days then check this shit out!! If you were too young to realize what you have missed then now is your chance. This CD is heavy, aggressive, technical, and has tight playing. It's topped off with a well ranged singer that can sing clear, high and melodic as well as rough, as is the hallmark of many thrash bands. The lead guitarist has awesome chops that blows away many contemporary lead players. The only drawback is that he's the only guitarist in the band. On the recording during solo sections things sound empty at times. They probably did this so they could recreate the songs live, but it still sounds empty either way.

Their are 7 songs listed on the CD and 2 unlisted tracks. Of these the best are "Crush Your World" and "Realize" (wicked double kicks in the later). Standing out like a sore thumb on the CD is "Endless." While this is not a bad song, it sounds more apt to be found on Metal Church's "Hanging In The Balance."

If this CD would of been released 10 years ago then you wouldn't be reading this for you'd already have Imagika in your collection. To learn more about the band visit their web site. You can order the CD from Headless Corpse Records.

San Francisco power thrash act Imagika have been honing their skills since the mid-90s, releasing five solid albums thus far of underground steel. Much like other red, white, and blue sensations such as Seven Witches and Iced Earth, Imagika have established a firm fan base domestically while still being a fine export to countries like Japan and Germany. Through constant festival and club circuits as well as a number of compilation appearances, Imagika have, in my opinion, finally established themselves as a top tier metal act. The band have a new record out on Crash Music entitled "My Bloodied Wings", a fine outing that finally showcases maturity and growth from the group.

This is the finest hour from the talented and metallic hard hitters. Incorporating the thrash metal backbone of the '80s metal movement (see Overkill, Anthrax, Metallica) while injecting a youthful, European frenzy of melodic soaring captivates the market and fan base of this particular genre. Like the bands mentioned earlier, Imagika combine on those two strengths in a "new metal movement" of underground US power thrash. In a lot of ways this band reminds me of those Metal Blade hopefuls of the '80s, the talented, scorching acts that displayed the razzle dazzle Euro flavors while still firmly embracing the blue collar US metal sound. However, I hope that this band can emerge as a serious mainstream and mainstay contender in a market where fantastic musical talents are set aside in a search for extreme, over the top 'core ramblings that are senseless and uninspiring. Imagika are a modern band, much like Iced Earth and Seven Witches, that can possibly change the tide here stateside and finally put the spotlight on quality, talented acts that support HEAVY METAL bands and please the denim and leather crowd.

You can look at fist raising anthems like "Throw The Horns" as rousing stompers that motivate and ignite the listener, a stormy sensation that is punctuated by vocalist Norman Skinner's energetic performance. Standing front among a wall of chaingun riffs and rigid bass lines, it is Skinner's use of low to mid-tempo vocal patterns crossed with an over the top falsetto range that is a throwback to Rob Halford or even Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys). Skinner also writes this record, with his emphasis on dark and sinister themes running rampant through this entire effort. "Hunter's Moon", "The Darkest Of All Secrets", and "Forever Darkened" are all dark lit passages through horrific fantasy, almost acquiring a sort of traditional horror aspect to the lyrics. His writing is also uplifting and moving as well, evident in the inspirational "Heart Of Icarus".

Musically both Rice and Toms are fantastic on the strings here, each working a furious riff charge that is led by melodic twin leads and a rich emphasis on the bay area thrash movement. Bassist Elena Luciano provides quick bass backings that are both rigid and up-front on the recording. The skins are handled by long time drummer Henry Moreno, who does an excellent job with the patterns but does suffer from more of "click" sound than a solid "thump". I like my drum sound a bit more thick with these recordings. The production is handled by famed producer Andy La Rocque at his Los Angered studio. Highlights are "Heart Of Icarus", "The Darkest Of All Secrets", and "Second Coming".

Bottom Line - A fantastic power thrash offering that finally puts Imagika firmly in the driver's seat. This band has become a leading force in the power metal community through hard work, dedication, and the striving purpose to innovate and energize what has become a rather stale "new" metal market. This is the best work of their entire career and one that hopefully gets them the mainstream recognition they so deserve!
Site Oficial -
David Michael (Vocais)
Steven D. Rice (Guitarras, Backing Vocals)
Michael Dargis (Baixo)
Henry Moreno (Bateria)